Recently on the front page of the Orange County Register was the headline “Grieving parents plead for fentanyl education,” and rightfully so. Then the article went on to describe a gathering of the parents of 21 young people who had died from fentanyl. But instead dying from an overdose, they really died from a poisoning. None of these were hard-core drug addicts. Instead they were just young people who were experimenting, or celebrating birthdays or seeking a thrill or trying to self-medicate for a diagnosed mental illness. But what people still mostly do not understand is that it is largely our government’s policy of Drug Prohibition that is unnecessarily causing the deaths of these young people! Strong words, but true.

So how is that? I begin by citing the reality that the term “controlled substances” is the biggest oxymoron in our world today. Why? Because as soon as we make a drug illegal we give up all of the controls to the bad guys like Mexican drug cartels, juvenile street gangs and other unsavory people. With illicit drugs, critically important things like quality control, truth in labeling and age restrictions are totally outside of our reach. In that regard, I also cite back to the most effective drug law in our nation’s history, which was the federal Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. This law had nothing to do with prohibiting any drugs, it simply required truth and accuracy in their labeling. And at that time we had huge problems with so-called snake oil tonics or “medicines” that were advertised “to make you feel a whole lot better right away.” And they did – for a short time – because most were comprised of about 50 percent cocaine! But with truth in labeling, when people saw what was in these products, they immediately stopped taking them. The same thing would be true with fentanyl if its presence were known.

But today fentanyl has often found its way into many illicit drugs, such as marijuana, heroin, cocaine and more. Why? Because it is cheap to manufacture and also is extremely potent. In fact I once read that the same amount of fentanyl that is found in the single-use sugar packets given away in restaurants can kill as many as 50 people! But if we had licit drugs, along with honest education and truth in labeling, people would see that fentanyl was included in the ingredients and would surely stop taking them. And that would save lives! That is pretty much what has happened when people learned the truth about smoking tobacco. (And at least if someone goes to their local mini-mart to buy a pack of Marlboros they know that it will not contain fentanyl!) So this is yet one more incredibly important reason for our country to repeal our nation’s policy of Drug Prohibition: because it is killing our kids!

I heard that “Dear Abby” was at a loss to answer the following:

Dear Abby, What can I do about all the Sex, Nudity, Fowl Language and Violence on my VCR?

Dear Abby, I was married to Bill for 3 months and I didn’t know he drank until one night he came home sober.

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

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